Wednesday, 27 July 2011

William Hague condemns Megrahi release

[This is the headline over a report just published on The Independent website. It reads in part:]

The appearance of the convicted Lockerbie bomber on Libyan television has confirmed that a "great mistake" was made in releasing him from jail, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.

Mr Hague said Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's release from a Scottish prison almost two years ago on compassionate grounds was "absolutely the wrong thing to do".

In footage seen by the BBC last night, a television presenter introduced Megrahi at what appeared to be a pro-government rally, and said his conviction was the result of a "conspiracy". (...)

He returned to Libya in August 2009 after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The Scottish Government accepted advice that he had about three months to live.

At a press conference in central London, Mr Hague said the footage demonstrated that this advice was "pretty much worthless".

He said: "I think the appearance of Mr al-Megrahi on our television screens is a further reminder that a great mistake was made when he was released.

"The Prime Minister and I, when we were in opposition, both strongly disagreed with that position by Scottish ministers.

"We disagreed with what has subsequently been revealed about the facilitation by the previous Labour government at Westminster of moves towards the release of al-Megrahi."

He added: "This was absolutely the wrong thing to do. It shows the medical advice it was based on was pretty much worthless and I think many people, particularly the families of those killed at Lockerbie, I think their anger and outrage at this release will be further intensified by what we have seen. [RB: Not much anger and outrage seems to be emanating from the UK relatives of those killed over Lockerbie.]

"So it has always been our view this was a mistake and this simply confirms that."


  1. I regret to say I agree with William Hague. If it were the case that Megrahi was innocent - as seems probable - then of course he should have been released, but I'm afraid that the compassionate release of someone who murdered 270 people seems to me an unjust outcome.

    This is another example of our (I'm Scottish, not American) criminal justice system allowing itself to be made a monkey of.

    If he was compassionately released as some kind of compromise to avoid the embarrassment of an appeal, then it's even worse.

  2. I wish people would get it into their heads that a three-month prognosis doesn't mean "dead within three months." It's a median survival time, and the distribution has a long tail. Besides that, the prognosis was given on the assumption that he remained in prison in Scotland: if that had happened, it's unlikely he would still be alive today.

  3. I also don't see how people are failing to comment on Megrahi's appearance in that video clip. I remarked that he "didn't look too bad", meaning that he wasn't bedridden, totally housebound or on life support. Also that this implied that he was still receiving adequate medical care in spite of the dire situation in Tripoli.

    The man is only 59, and he's a skeleton in comparison to the photos taken of him in Greenock in 2007, before the diagnosis.

  4. Anonymous27 July, 2011

    I committed to myself not to get back into the weeds on this board, but this news is pretty astounding.

    @Rolfe, my contact hasn't responded to me yet (regarding retrial)...I suspect, ironically, due to this news.

    @pete - As I mentioned a few entries back, the release was very suspect. The US Senate report identified many conflicting stories within the Justice Dept re: the release. I still stand by my position stated previously.

    And @pete, I have been personally involved with oncological care due to a family member's numerous recurrences. While I agree that dead w/i 3 months is not a timetable, one doesn't go onto chemo when close to death. It's simply cruel to do so -- that in itself is suspect. That would tend to support the assertion that Megrahi was not as compromised as stated.

    And it appears that there are conflicting stories as to whether he was on chemo in Greenock.

    And let's not forget he was diagnosed in October 2008 -- nearly 3 years ago. And we're supposed to believe that a country so deeply bound by compassion (to release) would be so cruel and deny chemo to a cancer victim for nearly a year while imprisoned? It stretches credibility.

    I have a hunch that it will be discovered that the release was contrived on manipulated diagnoses prior to Megrahi being found innocent of the Lockerbie bombing.

    (I do think he has cancer -- but he was never to the point of being at death's door.)

    One final note, there appears to be 3 times there was a series of publicized reports that he was in a coma and near death.

    When I analyzed those reports, they miraculously coincided with the anniversary of his release, the release of the US Senate report, the first time Lockerbie's anniversary occurred while Megrahi was released.

    I make no accusation. I note the happy coincidence.

    For a guy in a coma and near death 3 times, he looks very well.

  5. Anonymous27 July, 2011

    For the record, I don't wish for Al-Megrahi's death.

    I wish for his re-imprisonment if and until he is found innocent of the bombing until the full sentence imposed is served.

  6. You wouldn't settle for finding out if he's actually guilty first, before imprisoning an obviously very ill man?

    How are you getting on with your background reading into the actual facts of the case, which I submit are a darn sight more fundamental to the issues than the murk surrounding the compassionate release.

    Any chance you might read and respond to the posts on earlier threads that attempted to explain some of these issues to you?

  7. Issues surrounding Megrahi's prognosis, or indeed the intricacies of the compassionate release are merely tinkering at the edges of this case, because as it stands the Zeist opinion remains there in all its infamous glory to be read, and you don't need to be a Philadelphia lawyer to know the conviction was perverse and absurd.

  8. I do recall hearing on a Scottish TV news bulletin (a couple of years ago or so) that Megrahi was refusing treatment in prison. I don't know if this claim was verified or refuted - does anyone know?

    If the three month prognosis was based on him not receiving treatment that he himself declined then the compassionate release would be rather more suspect.

  9. Here is part of a Press Association article on the subject of Megraghi's appearence yesterday. Nothing new but it suggests that Christine Grahame is still focussed on supporting a public enquiry. I'm slightly concerned by the use of the term "conspiracy theories" though.

    A Scottish Government spokesman said they were satisfied that Holyrood's
    Justice Committee has "examined all relevant aspects" of Megrahi's

    However, the same committee will shortly decide whether to call for a
    public inquiry into his conviction.

    Committee convener Christine Grahame has said it is time for "a clean,
    clear look at the role of Scottish justice" because of the number of
    "conspiracy theories" surrounding the conviction.

    The issue was referred back to Holyrood thanks to a long-running Justice
    For Megrahi campaign, led by Dr Jim Swire whose daughter Flora died in
    the bombing.

    The campaign supported the decision to release Megrahi and wants an
    independent inquiry into his conviction. This call has been rejected by
    the Scottish Government.

    A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Al Megrahi is dying of terminal
    prostate cancer and was released on compassionate grounds based on the
    recommendations of the Parole Board, the prison governor and the medical
    report of the Scottish Prison Service's most senior health professional.

    "The decisions to reject the prisoner transfer application and grant
    compassionate release were taken by the Justice Secretary according to
    the precepts of Scots law. Our sole interest was taking a justice
    decision based on Scots law without fear or favour, which was exactly
    what was done.

    "This material is all in the public domain, including the medical
    report, and it all vindicates the Scottish Government's position.
    Indeed, it is clear that only the Scottish Government played with a
    straight bat on this matter, while the UK Government said one thing in
    public and another in private.

    "The Scottish Parliament Justice Committee examined all relevant aspects
    of this issue (Megrahi's release) and concluded that the decision was
    taken in good faith.

    The spokesman continued: "Instead of criticising a senior health
    professional, Mr Hague should understand that the medical advice to the
    Justice Secretary came from Dr Andrew Fraser, director of health and
    care of the Scottish Prison Service.

    "Dr Fraser is a professional of impeccable integrity and he concluded
    that his clinical assessment was that a three-month prognosis was a
    reasonable estimate, drawing on the work of a range of specialists and
    other Scottish health service professionals involved in Al Megrahi's
    care from when he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

    "Given the importance of this case, it was appropriate that the most
    senior health professional in the SPS was responsible for providing the
    medical report. With the exception of this point, ie the most senior SPS
    health professional providing the report, this is exactly the same
    process that has been followed in the more than 60 cases considered
    under the relevant legislation passed in 1993."

  10. Anonymous27 July, 2011

    All I can say: He was convicted in YOUR courts. His conviction was upheld.

    His second appeal will never be reconciled...can we agree on that?

    You can argue that there is conflicting evidence...however, it's merely speculation until and unless there is a process for adjudicating it. @Rolfe - you can be sarcastic or yell doesn't change that reality.

    @Rolfe - I frankly haven't had time to go back on the issue of the bag transfer's not a priority. As I have said, I believe in the conviction. And...I will say to you for the umpteenth time, it's not my focus. And I have a life.

    Having a conviction overturned, is not the same as being innocent. In the US, it usually results - if the facts support it - in a retrial. Conversely, I agree being convicted does not mean culpable (a position of yours I respect, though I disagree with it).

    I "get" you don't believe in the conviction. I can argue with you 'til the cows come home -- that's why I am not. We have irreconcilable differences.

    I will - when I get the chance - look to reacquire the information that shared that there was a print dataset that showed the inter-line transfer of the Lockerbie bag. I just happened to recall it from a show. (Yes, I know that all documentary television is wrong unless professing Megrahi is innocent.)

    However, I have to run. We're going to a "hang 'em high" festival, where I am meeting up with the other bloodthirsty, Americans conspirators where we plot all other injustices to be perpetrated against the world. I will post pictures to my Facebook, please "friend me". (Please note sarcasm, @rolfe.)

    @eddie - I am a little more pointed with @Rolfe as he is a bit of a lost 60's radical, who seems to only respond in hyperbole. Permit me to respond to you as I normally would in a rational conversation, as you raise a good point.

    I can appreciate the interpretation that the release is "the edges". It is only if you believe there was a larger injustice in the conviction. If one believes in the conviction, then the injustice was the release -- which appears contrived the longer Megrahi lives.

    As I have said, in the US (and everywhere) there is always error in trial. The question is whether it's REVERSIBLE error -- meaning material prejudicial to the case.

    Again, the SCCRC report is not released...thus, all is speculation. When it comes out, then I am happy to engage on those reversible error issues. Until then, this is just a vacuum of information being filled with speculation, conspiracy and increasing rancor.

    Release the SCCRC report. But again,...WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT? The appeal is dead. Why was it withdrawn, when not required for Compassionate Release?

    I support a retrial. I support exonerating Al-Megrahi, if innocent. How many times do I have to say that?!?!?

    However, no matter how much you yell (@Rolfe) and insult (@Jo G), it is not mutually exclusive to believe in the conviction (and the processes that led to that) and to support a fair legal trial or a dispassionate re-examination of the record. If and until he is found to have a successful appeal, then he is guilty. He may not be culpable (per JFM assertions), but he is guilty as a matter of law.

    You all assume because I believe in the conviction that I am hostile to a re-examination of the case. I have said, I support the ONLY route to put all of the allegations on this blog to the crucible of scrutiny in a trial -- that trial in a US Court.

    If you believe in the evidence as much as you do, he will be found innocent (after all Fhimah was in Scotland).

  11. Anonymous27 July, 2011

    @theambler - I would suggest you read the US Senate report "Justice Undone". Just google US Senate "Justice Undone" (with quotes around Justice Undone).

    Here is the URL:

    There are some interesting observations. And there was contemporaneous articles (reported in the Scottish press) that Burgess, if I recall correctly, was "wrangled" by his handlers in E'burgh when the issue of chemo at Greenock appeared to conflict with the public stance of the Scottish Executive.

    If you need those press reports, just post and I will dig those up. I have it referenced somewhere in my URL file.

  12. I just have to say it again. I'm simply dumbstruck that Michael still barefacedly announces he believes Megrahi was guilty when he clearly doesn't have the first idea of the evidence, or its flaws.

    You're entitled to your own opinion, Michael, but you're not entitled to your own facts. Find out the facts first, then form your opinion, there's a good chap.

    As Eddie said, the Opinion of the Court is there to be read in all its glory. It's not that long and it's not that hard.

  13. I'm even more dumfounded to see how much detail about the circumstances of Megrahi's release Michael has at his fingertips. And yet he won't even read the basic document giving the reasoning behind his conviction.

  14. If you believe in the evidence as much as you do, he will be found innocent.

    By a court of the country that bribed and threatened Giaka to make up evidence to support the conviction, and bribed Gauci to accede to the suggestion that Megrahi might have been the clothes purchaser?

    How charmingly naive.

  15. I do recall hearing on a Scottish TV news bulletin (a couple of years ago or so) that Megrahi was refusing treatment in prison. I don't know if this claim was verified or refuted - does anyone know?

    If the three month prognosis was based on him not receiving treatment that he himself declined then the compassionate release would be rather more suspect.

    To the best of my knowledge the story about Megrahi refusing treatment related to one particular incident when he threw a strop and refused to see a particular doctor because he wasn't happy with the way his application for compassionate release was being handled.

    The documentation in relation to the actual granting of the compassionate release indicated that Megrahi had requested to be allowed to return home to receive the chemotherapy he knew he was going to need but had not yet started, because he knew chemo was tough and he wanted the support of his family while he went through it if possible.

  16. Anonymous27 July, 2011

    @Rolfe - This will be the last time I address you or reference you.

    I am flattered my opinion means so much to you. I followed the original conviction and have read primary sources regarding Lockerbie.

    I have an interest in this because I nearly was a victim of a similar attack in December 2009 -- the Detroit flight. As I said previously, I was nearly booked on that flight. And my family live 10 minutes flight time from the bombing sight.

    After that happened, I asked myself: who speaks for the people who were joking, laughing, sleeping, and sat excitedly waiting to see family for Christmas? People sitting there as a plane disintegrated around them at 31,000'. Many - if not most - were alive after the explosion and died from the impact -- some clutching grass in Scotland as if to crawl away for help. Some likely regained consciousness as they descended uncontrolled at 300+ mph into the ground -- likely knowing they would die in the next few moments.

    Out of respect for the memories of those who died, I have tried to respond with dispassion and dignity to you. I have offered some "chin music" (a close pitch in baseball parlance) to get to quit being so hostile. That was lost on you.

    I gather that you won't agree to disagree and would only be happy in evangelizing and converting the non-believer. That is regrettable.

    I have offered the respect of your position. And I have offered support of your position of exonerating Megrahi if innocent. I have said, there is no open vehicle to do so, except the US trial. Is that an incorrect statement?

    I disagree with your position. However, I respect it. I have served on a three-felony count jury here in the US. I can assure you as the foreman of that jury that in that case (leading charge: vehicular homicide) that meticulous attention to detail is essential. And though a "law and order" type o' guy, we as a jury really struggled with finding someone guilty of a crime and taking their freedom away. That singular experience was quite reassuring -- seeing 12 "average joes and janes" REALLY struggle with conviction.

    I can't imagine that Scottish Judges would take their responsibilities, their careers and their credibility any less seriously. Can you?

    In short, I have respect for the Scottish legal system. The release was a "politic" decision -- that is what I don't respect.

    It may be within one's legal purview, but the difference between a country of laws and one that is a banana republic is one that VERY judiciously (no pun intended) grants what in the US are referred to as: commutation, pardon, and parole.

    I think the CR decision did two things that I think will fall apart -- attempted to forestall the appeal for reasons only known to the Sec'y of Justice and attempted to ride a fine line of smacking Westminster re: PTA while conjoining Scottish interests re:£1.4bn in compensation reimbursement (if the appeal were granted) with the Libya oil deal.

    The truth always comes out -- which should be reassuring to your cause. I would love to see the SCCRC result in an appeal and retrial in Scotland. However, I bet the US beats you to the punch.

    Good luck @rolfe.


  17. Anonymous27 July, 2011

    I apologise. It should read bombing site , not bombing sight.

  18. @Rolfe - This will be the last time I address you or reference you.

    Promises, promises....

    Michael, you fall into a common, but pernicious, trap. You invoke the horror of these deaths to try to turn advocacy away from the 271st victim. Obviously, the appalling circumstances of the attack are irrelevant to the question of the guilt or innocence of one person. Somebody, well, a group of somebodies obviously, blew up that plane. But nobody's memory is served by victimising the wrong person.

    Every so often, in ferreting out the facts, I come across yet another seldom-recounted tragedy. The most recent is Mrs. Ibolya Gabor, aged 79, travelling from her home in Budapest to visit her son in Los Angeles. And the young family she befriended at the airport, Janos and Zsuzsanna Roller, travelling with their five-year-old daughter Edina. The Rollers spoke almost no English, and had never flown before. Mrs. Gabor exchanged her ticket on an earlier flight in order to travel with the Rollers and assist them through their journey.

    How DARE you imply I don't care about these people, or about the Flannagans or the Somervilles or the rest of the Lockerbie people. The worst thing you can do for their memory is pretend the bastards who killed them aren't still out there, laughing their arses off at all this "Megrahi is the Lockerbie bomber" mantra.

    I don't believe you followed the original trial with any degree of attention. I don't believe you've read any meaningful primary sources. Otherwise you wouldn't have to go skipping through a TV show to check some vague memory that there might have been something in the evidence about unaccompanied luggage. You'd know about tray 8849, and you'd be able to explain why you are certain, beyond reasonable doubt, that that tray contained a brown Samsonite suitcase with a ticking bomb in it. More so than, say, tray 5620.

    I'm not trying to "convert" you, this isn't an evangelical mission. I'm trying to get you to substantiate your intellectual position. Since you won't even set out your stall, I try to explain my position in the hope you might counter me with some reason and logic.

    No luck. I can see when I'm dealing with a faith-based position, and using reason and logic against a faith-based belief is notoriously unproductive.

    Oh, and quit patronising me, you wanker.

  19. Dear Michael,

    you wrote:
    "I can't imagine that Scottish Judges would take their responsibilities, their careers and their credibility any less seriously. Can you?"

    Arguments like this is the core of the "Megrahi-is-guilty" argumentation.

    In the US you have an string of trials, and their appeals, where the conviction has been proven wrong by later inspection of evidence.

    Mistakes were clearly made. Would you then say, that the convicting judges and juries did not take their "responsibility, career and credibility" serious?

    I would not. Rather that they were willing to convict people "beyond reasonable doubt" based on evidence that later turned out to be insufficient and misleading.

    And maybe that was exactly a part of their "responsibility".

    As this can happen, Scotland has SCCRC to look into cases. You know their evaluation of Megrahi's conviction.

    I have seen the verdict, which alone, by itself, demonstrates an incredible willingness to draw (circular) conclusions out of very thin air.

    The purchase date of the clothes is one famous example

    I have also seen the material coming up later.

    Millions of dollars transferred to a man, whose only accomplishment was to say something that the prosecution wanted.

    Expert witnesses, discredited by evidence given in other trials where convictions were later overturned.

    Pages in a investigator's journal renumbered, so chronology would fit better.

    A timer fragment not tested for explosives. Or even worse, that may have been tested, but as the result was the "wrong" one, we better say "it was not tested" in court.

    It is endless, and despite the absolutely damning consequences for the validity of the verdict it is never opposed or denied in details.

    You are no exception.

  20. I don't wish for his death either. I just wish those who claim to be so proud of Scots Law and our Justice System were sure enough of it to have allowed the Appeal. As it is their absolute determination to delay and then scupper the appeal said it all.